INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
- AND -
TEACHERS UNION OF IRELAND
Chairman: Mr McGee
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Incremental credit
2. An increase in the number of permanent appointments was made in Institutes of Technology following the agreement under the provisions of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW). Previous to this many appointments had been to non permanent positions. The Union contends that this showed up anomalies in the incremental credit provision. In addressing these anomalies an agreement was concluded between the Union and the Department of Education and Science in 2002 under which staff which were appointed to permanent academic posts would receive incremental credit for temporary service.
- The dispute before the Court relates to whether the agreement between the parties in respect of incremental credit is to cover those on whose behalf the issue was raised initially or whether it should it should exclude them and be only in respect of future appointees. The Department sought implementation of the agreement from a current date, that being that it only applies to those appointed after the discussions concluded and substantive agreement was reached in September 2002.
The union sought an earlier date to comprehend those on whose behalf the issue was raised and sought that those appointees following the PCW agreement would be comprehended by the agreement.
The dispute could not be resolved at local level and was the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. As agreement was not reached, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 10th February, 2005, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 1st June, 2005, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The Union did recognise the potentially significant cost in terms of making retrospective payment to some of the people concerned and took the view that its priority was that the members concerned would be placed on the appropriate point of this scale from the date of the agreement. Were this to have been done the Union would not look for retrospective payments for the increased salary which would have been payable during the intervening period of four years.
2. This is not a traditional claim for an improvement in conditions in respect of which the Union has subsequently sought retrospection for the agreement. Rather the Union sought to address the anomalies for those individuals who were being appointed at the time, this led to a situation where a substantial agreement was reached but the original anomalies raised were still not being addressed. The Union is seeking that those members on whose behalf the issue was raised in the first place would have their anomalies addressed and would see the benefit of this agreement by way of being placed on a higher salary.
3. The Union is asking the Court to recommend that the agreement in respect of incremental credit as set out in Circular Letter IT 01/05 is applicable to those members of Academic staff appointed as a result of the PCW process and to those subsequent to that date (September 1998), and to recommend the placing of those appointees on the point of the scale applicable had the agreement been in place since September 1998, and to further recommend that arrears be payable to such persons with effect from September, 2002, this being the date by which the agreement was finalised.
4. 1. The claim represents a cost increasing claim which is precluded by the provisions of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness and Sustaining Progress. While it is difficult to determine the precise cost there is potential for individual increases of between €4,000 to €5,000. There have been approximately 971 appointments to Institutes of Technology since 1st September, 1998. The increased costs of retrospection to individual Institutes would impact on their capacity to deliver their current suite of courses having regard to the budgetary constraints currently operating in the sector.
2. It is normal custom and practice in the public sector that revised arrangements governing the rules for the award of incremental credit are introduced for new appointees only. Any "lookback" is generally of a limited nature and applies subject to certain criteria. The potential for anomalies is a feature of all new arrangements. Concession of the claim would have implications for similar arrangements across the public sector.
3. This claim is one of a number of claims being taken by the grades of lecturer in the Institutes of Technology (two of which were before the Court recently, see LCR18164). While the Union has been arguing in each of the claims that they are of a minor nature and not cost-increasing, there is no doubt that the claims, when considered in their totality, will place a significant burden on individual Institutes (if conceded) and represent a breach of Sustaining Progress. Accordingly the Official Side requests the Court to reject the claim.
The Court has given detailed consideration to this case and to the submissions of the parties. It has come to the conclusion that the best solution is an industrial relations one.
The Court recommends that each claimant have applied to them the suggestion made at conciliation by the IRO whereby staff appointed before the effective date could not be on a lower point than those appointed afterwards. This should be implemented and each claimant should, as an acknowledgement of the lengthy claim process, also receive an ex-gratia payment of €1,500 in full and final settlement of the matter.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
24th October, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Joanne O'Connor, Court Secretary.